Meet the Triumph Thunderbird Storm. It’s a big, burly cruiser in the mould of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy and it’s now on sale in India for a not inconsiderable Rs 13 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). That’s big money for a very big bike, because the Thunderbird Storm is seriously oversized in almost all dimensions. Sheer size apart, you can recognise a Thunderbird by its twin headlights (though the Harley Fat Bob uses a similar layout), massive 22-litre fuel tank and bobbed tail. Our test bike was finished in a stealthy matte black, but the chrome on the dual exhausts, mirrors and forks did add the requisite flash value expected from a cruiser. Beautiful it may not be, but the Thunderbird Storm sure is imposing.
From the saddle it can be more than a bit intimidating too. That the bike is heavy (it weighs 339kg) becomes clear the moment you fold back the side stand. Manoeuvring out of parking spaces requires serious leg power (and often a helping hand) and the large turning circle doesn’t help matters. A high-ish handlebar and cruiser-typical forward-set foot pegs also make this a bike better suited to taller riders. This group will find themselves in decent comfort on the wide seat, though their pillions will feel like unwelcome guests on the miniscule rear perch.
A brief ride in Gurgaon’s traffic also revealed the Thunderbird to be a bike that requires much concentration to ride within city limits. Throttle response is a tad too sharp for typical stop-go traffic and the clutch is quite heavy too. Vibrations from the palm grips and footpegs at low engine speeds don’t help matters either.
One thing’s for sure, the Triumph Thunderbird Storm is not an ideal daily rider. Where this motorcycle comes into its own is on the open road. That’s where you can make the most of the 1,699cc, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected parallel twin’s enormous 15.9kgm of torque, which is produced at a very accessible 2,950rpm. Emitting a purposeful growl, the Storm just pulls forward with urgency in each gear. What’s good is that it does so from very low down in the power band, so you need not shuffle through the positive-shifting six-speed gearbox as you keep alternating your pace with that of the highway traffic.
Out on the highway, you’ll also enjoy the Triumph Thunderbird Storm’s trait of great stability – that beefy 200/50 x 17-inch rear tyre playing a part here. Gentle curves and quick lane changes also pose no problem for the Storm, but in tighter bends you have to roll back on the throttle and plan your moves well in advance. When you do need to drop speed faster, you have the safety net of ABS on the pair of 310mm front discs and the single rear disc brake. Front telescopic forks and rear shock absorbers (adjustable for pre-load) take care of suspension duties. While we couldn’t tinker with the rear suspension settings in the limited time we had on the bike, we found ride quality to be a tad too firm.
So, given the condition of our roads and crawling city traffic, it’s hard to recommend the big Triumph Thunderbird Storm. But as Harley-Davidson has shown, and with great success, there are more than a few buyers for large cruisers in India. The Thunderbird Storm then could be just the bike for cruiser buyers with performance high on their wish lists.